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December 30, 2014: Following an injunction won by PETA, the 2014/2015 Possum Drop in Brasstown, NC will not feature a live possum. This is not, however, a complete victory as the injunction requires a state permit to use a live possum. Possum Drop organizers told the Associated Press that they simply didn’t have time to get one this year. Please continue to sign and show your support for a complete end to the Possum Drop!
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 59,562
Sponsored by: The Rainforest Site

Large crowds, live music, and loud fireworks — it would have all the hallmarks of a typical New Year’s celebration, if not for the terrified opossum dangled in a cramped box over the cheering mob. This is Brasstown’s annual “Opossum Drop,” which adds a North Carolina “twist” on the prominent ball drop in Time Square. (See the video under “More about this issue” for a first-hand look.)

In recent years, event organizers have faced increased pressure from animal advocates, culminating in a lawsuit that prevented use of a live opossum in the 2013 event. Not to be deterred, State Representative Roger West (who also happens to sponsor the Opossum Drop) introduced a bill (HB 1131) “to exempt Clay County from state wildlife laws with respect to opossums between the dates of December 26 and January 2.” The bill became law in June 2014.

An implicit acknowledgement that the event violates the state’s existing wildlife laws, this law sets a poor precedent, prioritizing personal and commercial interests over animal welfare. Worse still, this “family friendly” event teaches young kids in attendance that it’s okay to masquerade animal abuse as entertainment.

This leaves us until the end of the year to let North Carolina’s General Assembly know we don’t tolerate this brand of animal cruelty. Fortunately, a trio of Senators that serve on the state’s Environment Committee also voted against this awful piece of legislation. Sign below to stand behind them and call on a law to repeal SL 2014-7.

Sign Here

Dear Senators Jeff Jackson, Trudy Wade, and Angela Bryant:

As members of the state’s Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources, I am writing to you to ask you continue standing up against animal cruelty in all of its manifestations. Specifically, this is a request to repeal SL 2014-7, which permits Brasstown, NC to continue using live opossums in their annual New Year’s celebration, the “Opossum Drop.” All but the event’s most ardent supporters recognize this façade for what it is — animal cruelty masquerading as entertainment.

The Opossum Drop is especially dangerous in its depictions of animal cruelty. Billed as a “family friendly” event, the celebration dresses up torture and animal abuse in a veneer of frivolity that belies the tragic underpinnings of the event. Each year, organizers capture and confine the typically reclusive marsupial in a cramped space where it is left to dangle above thousands of cheering onlookers as they celebrate with loud music, fireworks, and even musket fire.

Concerned citizens are dismissed as hippie killjoys out to ruin a town tradition in the name of political correctness. But “tradition” often serves as a last refuge for anachronistic practices that fall from social favor. Opossum Drop’s defenders are particularly disingenuous, ignoring the fact that the event was fabricated in 1990 as a desperate marketing ploy for the tiny Appalachian town. Since then, the event has quickly enshrined a public display of animal cruelty that now enjoys state protection.

Those same supporters also argue the captive opossum receives better treatment than a wild opossum and then is released back into the wild after the event. Yet reams of evidence and experts counter that the abducted mammal suffers potentially lethal trauma from the exposure and likely perishes shortly after release. Opossums are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark and secure areas — not a Plexiglas case left hanging above a rambunctious crowd during a fireworks show.

A replica could easily stand in for these unfortunate opossums and prevent any potential for abuse — not to mention the mounting cost of legal battles in courtrooms and the state legislature — while carrying on the tradition. In fact, true adherents should recall the very first Opossum Drop used a ceramic replica and only later introduced the live opossum.

As it stands now, Opossum Drop’s only legacy is one of animal cruelty, teaching future generations that such mistreatment is not only tolerated, but actually encouraged. The punchline of many jokes, it’s easy and even tempting to dismiss the troubles of this solitary marsupial. It gives me some hope to see a small enclave of reason and empathy operating in an environment dominated by personal and commercial interests.

Please, do what you can to convince your colleagues and your constituents that SL 2014-7 is a shameful law and needs repealed immediately.


(The Undersigned)

Petition Signatures

Oct 7, 2015 Alida Tsang
Oct 7, 2015 Doris Hufnagel
Oct 7, 2015 Denise Burroughs
Oct 7, 2015 Elwira Frigerio-Konieczna
Oct 7, 2015 Michael Mueller
Oct 6, 2015 shirley ragsdale
Oct 6, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Oct 6, 2015 Zulma Delaferme
Oct 6, 2015 lidia bankosz
Oct 6, 2015 KAREN GARCIA
Oct 6, 2015 Memoree VanderHeyden
Oct 6, 2015 Tami Miller
Oct 6, 2015 Michael Milz
Oct 6, 2015 Darcy Baril
Oct 6, 2015 Lisa McCloughan
Oct 6, 2015 Carrie Tomas
Oct 6, 2015 isabelle cavanagh
Oct 6, 2015 Magali Jonet
Oct 6, 2015 paola catapano
Oct 6, 2015 T. Fitzgerald
Oct 6, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Oct 5, 2015 tabbitha brindle
Oct 5, 2015 Charles Calhoun
Oct 5, 2015 Kathy White Grow up people!
Oct 5, 2015 Lori Clayton
Oct 5, 2015 Gerald Hallam
Oct 4, 2015 Katy Gabriel Katerina
Oct 4, 2015 Kate Traphagen Sounds like parady from the 'Beverly Hillbillies'! You must be mean people. Maybe all the old stereotypes are true....
Oct 4, 2015 Jackie Godbout
Oct 4, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Oct 4, 2015 Cat Tayler
Oct 4, 2015 Barbara Grimm
Oct 3, 2015 Nadine Zimmer This is sick , sadistic, behavior from the Dark Ages! You probably have witch hunts! Opossums are sentient beings who deserve empathy, protection, compassion, and respect. There is no reason you cannot use a replica. Please repeal SL 2014-7.
Oct 3, 2015 Kim Wolfe
Oct 3, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Oct 3, 2015 Janina Piotrowski I used to sit on a porch in Florida, a lot, possums came up every night to eat the cat food near my feet.I made up little "possum songs " to sing 'em. They are no big deal in the great scheme of things--except they are nothing to have earned this kind of
Oct 3, 2015 Rebecca Rodriguez
Oct 3, 2015 Susan Devereaux
Oct 3, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Oct 3, 2015 JLW van der Valk
Oct 2, 2015 Karen Tompkins
Oct 2, 2015 shirley davis
Oct 2, 2015 (Name not displayed)
Oct 2, 2015 Barbara Singer
Oct 2, 2015 Cassandra Marentette
Oct 2, 2015 Denise Bautz
Oct 2, 2015 Catherine Breithaupt
Oct 2, 2015 Valerie Philebaum-Smith
Oct 2, 2015 Vanessa Simmonds Oh dear how terrible. Let us hope that the proper authorities find time to arrest and charge all involved including the people issuing the licences.

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